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What We’re Reading…. BONNER: Mexico at Critical Point in War Against Narco-Traffickers

April 25, 2012

A recent New York Times op-ed by former Drug Enforcement Administration head Robert Bonner is worthy of attention. Tallying the Mexican death toll in the drug war since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 – more than 30,000 – Bonner had concluded in 2010 in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that “the Mexican government is in a fight to the death with powerful drug cartels—and it is an urgent national interest of the United States that Mexico prevails.”

JINSA is increasingly alarmed at the rising death toll in Mexico, and is alert to issues on the U.S. southern border, including Hezbollah’s presence in South America.

Today, with Calderon about to leave office as his final term ends, Bonner notes that he was successful in “reforming Mexico’s law enforcement institutions using a three-part strategy: creating a new, professional federal police force; rebuilding each of the 32 state forces and giving them the responsibilities of the discredited municipal police; and overhauling the judicial and penal systems.”

Calderon’s successor, Bonner writes, “will need to use an essential element of the kingpin strategy that has so far been missing: an aggressive asset-seizure program.”

We will be watching for success and urging a stronger U.S.-Mexico security partnership. JINSA’s recent mission to Colombia provided insights on that country’s successful efforts to combat drug cartels.

JINSA has long recognized the national security issues pertaining to our unsecured borders. On March 26, 2009, JINSA hosted a conference – Under the Radar: Emerging Security Issues for the New Administration – with one panel devoted to “Security Developments in Mexico” that featured the Hon. Karen P. Tandy, former Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Donald Charles Semesky, Jr., former Chief of the Office of Financial Operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Ariel Moutsatsos, adviser for International Affairs at the Office of the Attorney General of Mexico and the Deputy Attorney General for Organized Crime.

A key finding was that the United States does not have a real strategic, interactive, arm-in-arm, Mexico-U.S. joint strategic plan with assigned responsibilities. According to former DEA Administrator Tandy, “we throw money and personnel at the problem, and we announce all of the good things that we are going to do individually as stovepipes within our agencies.”

You can read Bonner’s article here.

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